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President Biden wants a speedy review to potentially reschedule or deschedule cannabis as an illegal drug, U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra told the press in Tampa, Florida, last Friday.
“The president was very clear — he wants this done as quickly as possible,” Becerra said, according to the Florida Phoenix. “It’s not new science, but there’s a lot of information to gather because, in many states, marijuana has been legalized for either medical purposes or recreational purposes.”
The National Craft Cannabis Coalition, comprised of state-level advocacy groups from Oregon, California, Washington, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, was formed with the goal of promoting state and federal policies that support small-scale growers, starting with the SHIP Act introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA).
The governor of New Jersey would be authorized to enter into agreements for interstate marijuana commerce with other states that have legalized cannabis under a new bill filed by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D).
However, the agreements could only be forged if federal law changes, or if the Justice Department issues guidance permitting such activity.
Never mind that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is the lead sponsor. Never mind that 68% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, a figure that includes 83% of Democrats and half of Republicans. And never mind that there’s a midterm election coming up in which passage would be an undeniable boost to Democrats’ electoral fortunes.
With a Senate bill to federally legalize marijuana expected to be introduced imminently, a key subcommittee chaired by one of the measure’s prime sponsors has scheduled a hearing for next week on cannabis reform and the harms of criminalization.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, chaired by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), will meet on July 26 for a meeting titled “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms.”
Schumer stressed to rally attendees that he’s working to win bipartisan support for the forthcoming bill he plans to introduce with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“I have invited every U.S. senator—every Democrat, every Republican—to come meet with us and tell us why they won’t support the bill or whether they will, and I’m making good progress,” Schumer said. “I’ve already met with six Republicans, so we can get 10 [and] we can get the 60 votes we need on the floor of the Senate to pass legislation that is so important.”
However, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 illegal drug with no medical uses, on par with heroin and LSD. The Drug Enforcement Agency strictly limits marijuana cultivation for research, frustrating scientists who are unable to investigate its medical benefits and risks under current regulations.
Rescheduling marijuana for research was an oft-repeated promise of President Joe Biden’s campaign, along with a pledge to decriminalize the use of cannabis and grant clemency to people with federal marijuana convictions.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and New Jersey’s Cory Booker released a letter Thursday asking senators whose states have legalized marijuana and those who sit on committees with oversight of federal drug policy to share their thoughts as the three attempt to perfect the legislation.
“Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states that have legalized cannabis in some form while it remains illegal at the federal level,” they wrote.
Take a look at the three polls released on the topic in 2021:
The equity advocates have submitted a pair of alternative amendments of the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which cleared the House last year and was recently refiled by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The proposals come from the Parabola Center, a newly established organization that is working to inform legalization legislation federally and at the state-level with the intent of promoting social justice-centered reforms.